Hospitals employ thousands of workers to take care of ill patients and perform the administrative duties to keep the hospital running. With emergencies—sometimes potentially life-threatening—happening all the time, it’s no wonder that hospital workers are constantly rushing around while they work. Unfortunately, they can become injured when they trip, slip, or fall in hazardous conditions around the hospital and find themselves the patient instead of the caregiver.
Common Slip and Fall Hazards At Hospitals
Slip and fall dangers are not confined to the units where hospital staff take care of patients. These hazards exist throughout the hospital, and the entire work force is at risk of injury. Common ways these accidents occur include:
- Liquids on the floor. Water, grease, and other spilled liquids can make floors that are already slick from cleaning and waxing dangerously slippery. Areas where this hazard is especially a problem include food service areas, bathrooms, building entrances, and areas with ice machines, drains, sinks, drinking fountains, and soap dispensers. Decontamination areas where wet equipment is transferred are also hazardous.
- Pipes and drains. When pipes are not aligned properly and drains become clogged, water can flow onto the floor. While kitchens and decontamination areas are especially prone to this hazard, it can be a problem in bathrooms, patient rooms, and anywhere else where water is used.
- Floor irregularities. When damaged, warped, torn, or uneven flooring and carpeting is not repaired or replaced, workers—and patients and their families—can easily slip and fall. Hazardous areas include hospital entrances, patient rooms, hallways, operating rooms, and decontamination areas.
- Ice and snow. Entrances, parking garages and lots, outside stairways, and sidewalks can become icy and slippery if they are not kept free of snow and ice.
- Poor lighting. When lighting is inadequate, workers cannot see a slip and fall hazard, such as a torn carpet or a spill on the floor. If they cannot see a danger, they cannot take steps to avoid it.
- Stairs and handrails. Stairs that are poorly marked, uneven, or not maintained can cause serious injuries if an employee slips and falls. Handrails that are not the proper height or that are loose can also pose dangers to workers.
- Ladders. If ladders are not stable, are used improperly, or are not maintained, workers utilizing them when repairing problems or doing routine maintenance throughout the hospital can fall.
- Wires and hoses. Loose cords, wires, medical tubing, and hoses can pose tripping hazards, especially in close quarters like patient rooms when medical staff is rushing.
- Floor mats and runners. Floor mats and runners can be great for absorbing tracked-in water and dirt from people’s shoes. However, when they are old or too worn, mats and runners can become slip and fall dangers.
Common Injuries Hospital Workers Suffer in Slip and Fall Accidents
Unfortunately, hospital workers can suffer serious injuries in falls while on the job. Worse, they can become permanently disabled. Common injuries they could suffer include:
- Traumatic brain injury. When workers slip and hit their head on the hard floor or object, they can suffer a traumatic brain injury. This can cause devastating changes to their cognitive, physical, behavioral, and emotional abilities—even with a mild injury to their heads.
- Spinal cord injuries. Spinal cord injuries can cause a person to suffer life-long changes in his strength, sensations, ability to move, and bodily functions. In the most severe cases, an employee could become partially or completely paralyzed.
- Soft tissue injuries. These injuries can include bruises, lacerations, sprains, and tears. While some can be minor problems, others can cause serious complications and require ongoing, expensive medical treatments.
- Broken bones. Fractures and broken bones are common when an employee falls and can be serious, for example if the fracture is to his skull, pelvis, or hip.
Hospital workers can suffer with chronic pain and permanent limitations in their day-to-day activities from slip and fall accidents. Given the physical demands of their jobs, some employees may never be able to perform their job duties and could become permanently disabled. However, they could be entitled to compensation for their lost wages and expensive medical bills under New Jersey’s workers’ compensation.
Are you a hospital worker who was injured on the job? I urge you to call me at 877-360-0183 to schedule a free consultation to learn how I can help you get the workers’ comp benefits you are entitled to.